Michael Gove said Suella Braverman is “absolutely” a politician of integrity, and said her asking the recipient of a message sent in error to “ignore and delete” the email is “standard practice”.
The Cabinet minister was challenged over the Home Secretary’s account that she immediately reported her mistake, and shown an email from Ms Braverman asking: “Can you delete the message and ignore?”
He told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme: “I’m sure there’d be all sorts of inferences that people can draw, but it would seem to me on the basis of the facts that I know, that would have been quite proper for the Home Secretary to have said to the recipient of something that was sent an error ‘please do delete and ignore it’. That is standard practice.”
He added the message was intended for another parliamentarian and “so it’s not as though it was being sent out into the ether to persons unknown”.
Asked if Ms Braverman is a politician of integrity, Mr Gove said: “Absolutely.
“I am satisfied, more than satisfied, that in resigning, accepting responsibility, apologising, and then in being assured by the Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister that Suella coming back into office was the right thing, that Suella is now in a position to do the work that she is dedicated to doing.”
He added that Braverman is facing opposition because she is “brave” and “making changes”, and he rejected calls to publish documents related to her security breach.
“It is always the case of any politician like Suella who is brave and who’s making changes… will inevitably face some opposition,” the Cabinet minister told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme.
“You only take flak if you’re over the target.”
On the attention on the matter, the former journalist said: “It becomes a distraction if people are asking these questions.”
Asked about Labour’s demands that the Government releases information about the chain of events, Mr Gove said: “When you are dealing with national security measures, then it will often be the case that there is information that you cannot share because that might compromise national security, or the effective operation of government.
“I also critically want to ensure that what we don’t do is on the basis of the imperfect information that is in the public domain, rush to judgment in a way that would seem to me to be inappropriate.”
Former Conservative chancellor Philip Hammond has said Rishi Sunak needs to be “very careful” about the signals his Government is “sending about the ministerial code” given that Suella Braverman is still in a Cabinet post.
Lord Hammond said: “I understand why the Prime Minister wanted to bring her back. I think he does need to be very careful about the signals it’s sending about the ministerial code.
“I’m actually more interested about what it says about internal Tory party politics and the difficult decisions, because one of the difficult decisions to get economic growth is to have a more relaxed approach to migration for work.”